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Michèle Torr - Hervé Vilard
05 Aug 2016

Michèle Torr (born Michelle Cléberte Tort), 7 April 1947 in Pertuis, Vaucluse, is a French singer and author, best known in non-Francophone countries for her participation in the Eurovision Song Contests of 1966 and 1977.

Michèle won her first singing contest at age fifteen, in 1962, winning the first year's On Chante dans mon Quartier contest in Avignon. Michèle was a tall beautiful woman with actress-like expression, and easily wins the audience over by singing the Édith Piaf song Exodus. Mireille Mathieu was runner-up that year with Les cloches de Lisbonne by Maria Candido. Then in 1963, at age sixteen, Michèle won a recording contract with the Mercury label, and opened for Jacques Brel at the Paris Olympia. She released three EPs (four songs each) throughout 1964, which were aimed at radio and juke-box play. Torr's release of Dans mes bras, oublie ta peine in 1964 was a big hit. Further releases of both original French material, and French covers of British and American hits, proved to be hit and miss. This setting the tone for Torr's career throughout the 60's, as she tried to find her niche. The Mercury contract ended in 1972.

In 1966, Torr was invited to perform the Luxembourgian entry, Ce soir je t'attendais, at the eleventh Eurovision Song Contest. This was permitted as there has never been a requirement at Eurovision for the singer to be native to the country they represent; indeed Luxembourg only very rarely chose a Luxembourgian as their performer. As Luxembourg had won the 1965 contest, the 1966 contest was held in Luxembourg City on 5 March.

Ce soir je t'attendais was a very contemporary-sounding song, but could only manage a surprisingly low tenth place of the eighteen entrants. The performance shows her actress-like facial expressions; however, she stumbles with the lyrics mispronouncing "clos" in the second verse. Her voice then breaks in several places, and sadly turns into a monotone yelling at the end. Overall, the performance at age 19 shows her star quality.

Eleven years later, in 1977, Torr again took part in Eurovision, this time representing Monaco with the song Une petite française. The 1977 contest took place in London on 7 May, and Torr improved on her previous result, finishing fourth of eighteen participants.

In between her two Eurovision appearances, Torr had also taken part in the French Eurovision pre-selection in 1970 with two songs, but had not progressed beyond the semi-final stage.

Torr had continued to record and release singles during the early and mid 1970s like Une vague bleue, a big hit, but she achieved the biggest successes of her career at the end of the decade with Emmène-moi danser ce soir, La séparation and Discomotion. Through the 1980s she continued to release successful singles and albums and was a regular on television. Her career stalled in the 1990s, with much less new material being released, although compilations of earlier work kept her in the public eye.

On 3 March 2008, she released her album Ces années-là on the Sony BMG Import label.

On 12 November 2012, she released an album of religious songs Chanter c'est Prier on the Sony Music France S.M.A.R.T. label.

As of 2015, She continues to tour worldwide on the French music nostalgia circuit, with almost a concert a month.

Hervé Vilard (born René Villard, 24 July 1946 in Paris, France) is a French pop–singer, who first became famous in the 1960s. His first single "Capri c'est fini" became an international hit in 1965 and made him instantly famous. The song sold 3.3 million copies. His long national and international musical career as composer, singer and stage performer spans four decades. In 1992 in recognition of his contributions to French culture he was awarded the Ordre national du Mérite in a ceremony at the Parisian Théâtre des Variétés hosted by Jean-Paul Belmondo.

René Vilard was born 24 July 1946 in a taxi which was transferring his mother Blanche to the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris to deliver. He never met his father who left home soon after the birth of his son. His mother eventually lost custody of her children and young René was sent to an orphanage in Paris. Later he was transferred to the Berry region of France into the custody of various foster homes. Young René became a runaway during that period of his life. Eventually he was moved to the Cher region of France where he met a priest, Father Angrand, who became his mentor and taught him literature and music. In 1991 Vilard bought the monastery at La Celette, where he met Father Angrand and made it his home.

Eventually young René left La Celette for Paris where he met Daniel Cordier, a former member of the French Resistance and Art dealer who later adopted him in 1962. This enabled teenager Vilard to finally remove himself from the state child care system. He started working at various places in Paris including a record store at Champs-Élysées. René wanted to further cultivate his musical talents and started taking singing lessons. During this time he was discovered by an executive working for Mercury Records. The meeting with the executive from Mercury Records led to a meteoric rise in his musical career. His first single Capri c'est fini was released in June 1965 under the Mercury label and instantly became a hit both in France and abroad selling 3.3 million copies and making Hervé Vilard a household name overnight. Capri c'est fini was co-written with Marcel Hurten, and has been described as "eternal" and "written with intensity by Vilard"

Following the success of Capri c'est fini, French newsmagazine France Dimanche offered the singer a deal under which the magazine would help him find his mother. In return, Hervé Vilard gave the magazine exclusive rights to the interviews and the press coverage that would follow a successful reunion. After Vilard accepted the offer, France Dimanche launched a publicity campaign which eventually resulted in Vilard finally reuniting with his mother. At the same time, the sales of France Dimanche increased substantially. His mother died in 1981.

Building on the success of Capri c'est fini Vilard releases two more hits Mourir ou vivre and Fais-la rire which establish him as a successful artist. In 1966, he becomes the opening act for Claude Francois. with whom he later goes on a European and World tour. After some time, Vilard and Francois came into conflict and their cooperation ended.
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